Send to

Choose Destination
Obes Rev. 2015 Dec;16 Suppl 2:16-29. doi: 10.1111/obr.12346.

Effects of a community-oriented obesity prevention programme on indicators of body fatness in preschool and primary school children. Main results from the IDEFICS study.

Author information

Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Department of Health Sciences, Vesalius, University College Ghent, Ghent, Belgium.
International Agency for Research on Cancer, Dietary Exposure Assessment Group, Lyon, France.
Department of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.
Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP), University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
Unit of Epidemiology and Population Genetics, Institute of Food Sciences, National Research Council, Avellino, Italy.
Section for Epidemiology and Social Medicine (EPSO), Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Paediatrics, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy at Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Paediatrics, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary.
GENUD (Growth, Exercise, Nutrition and Development) Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain.
Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS, Bremen, Germany.
Institute of Statistics, Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, University Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
Research and Education Institute of Child Health, Strovolos, Cyprus.
Department of Chronic Diseases, National Institute for Health Development, Tallinn, Estonia.



Childhood obesity is a major public health concern but evidence-based approaches to tackle this epidemic sustainably are still lacking. The Identification and prevention of Dietary- and lifestyle-induced health EFfects In Children and infantS (IDEFICS) study investigated the aetiology of childhood obesity and developed a primary prevention programme. Here, we report on the effects of the IDEFICS intervention on indicators of body fatness.


The intervention modules addressed the community, school and parental level, focusing on diet, physical activity and stress-related lifestyle factors. A cohort of 16,228 children aged 2-9.9 years - about 2000 per country - was equally divided over intervention and control regions. (Participating countries were Sweden, Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Cyprus, Italy, Spain and Belgium.) We compared the prevalence of overweight/obesity and mean values of body mass index z-score, per cent body fat and waist-to-height ratio over 2 years of follow-up. Mixed models adjusting for age and socioeconomic status of the parents and with an additional random effect for country accounted for the clustered study design.


The prevalence of overweight and obesity increased in both the intervention and control group from 18.0% at baseline to 22.9% at follow-up in the control group and from 19.0% to 23.6% in the intervention group. The difference in changes between control and intervention was not statistically significant. For the cohort as a whole, the changes in indicators of body fatness did not show any clinically relevant differences between the intervention and control groups. Changes in favour of intervention treatment in some indicators were counterbalanced by changes in favour of the control group in some other indicators.


Over the 2-year-observation period, the IDEFICS primary prevention programme for childhood obesity has not been successful in reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity nor in improving indicators of body fatness in the target population as a whole.


Children; community; obesity; prevention

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center